Tomorrow Nick Clegg is launching the Liberal Democrat manifesto, but tonight The Voice can give you an advance peek at what it will be saying. We’d like to report that this is due to our cunning radio controlled artificial pigeon which we have flown in to the roof of Cowley Street and used to point a webcam at the desk of the Director of Campaigns, but instead it’s thanks to the more prosaic method of receiving email, reading it and then blogging. Ah well, next time.
But back to the manifesto and let’s start with the cover:
No surprises in the four policies trailed on the front cover nor in the framing of them all in terms of fairness: fair taxes, fair chances (education), fair future (economy and environment) and a fair deal (cleaning up politics).
Nick’s foreword starts in a way very much in tune with the party’s recent Labservative online campaign launch – a welcome piece of integration:
We’ve had 65 years of Labour and the Conservatives: the same parties taking turns and making the same mistakes, letting you down. It is time for something different. It is time for something better.
Nick and others have recently being using (for politicians speaking in public) very blunt language to try to catch the public’s mood and that’s seen again here:
Doesn’t it make you angry that after 65 years of red-blue government, a child’s chances in life are still more determined by their parents’ bank balance than by their own hopes and dreams? Doesn’t it make you angry that the banks have been allowed to ride roughshod over our economy, and are still handing out bonuses by the bucket load? That politics is still the plaything of wealthy donors and corrupt MPs? That despite endless warm words from politicians, our climate is in danger? That the poorest are the ones who pay the biggest chunk of their income in tax?
But the anger can be turned into positive action:
I was brought up to believe that the way things are is not the way they have to be. I was brought up to believe that you should fi ght for what you believe in, and fight for change. So my message for you in this election is simple.
Don’t settle for low politics and broken promises: be more demanding. Set your sights on the Britain you want for your children and your grandchildren, and use your vote to make it happen.
Liberal Democrats are different. When it’s come to the big decisions – on the banks, on the environment, on the war in Iraq – we are the only party that has called it right, every time.
Only Liberal Democrats have the big ideas for fundamental, structural changes in the way our country works to make it fair. Only Liberal Democrats will shake up the tax system to put £700 back in the pockets of tens of millions of low and middle-income families, paid for by ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share. Only Liberal Democrats will break up the banks and start Britain building things again, creating a sustainable economy that no longer threatens our planet’s future. Only Liberal Democrats will invest in our schools to give every child, no matter their background, a fair start in life. And only Liberal Democrats will sort out our rotten political system once and for all.
A strong vote for the Liberal Democrats means the end of red-blue, blue-red politics. It means the end of the stitch-up between the two old parties.
It means the beginning of real change that works for you.
Finally, here are the four steps in more detail:
fair taxes – that put money back in your pocket
• The first £10,000 you earn tax-free: a tax cut of £700 for most people
• 3.6 million low earners and pensioners freed from income tax completely
• Paid for in full by closing loopholes that unfairly benefit the wealthy and polluters
• Overhaul Westminster completely: fair votes, an elected House of Lords, all politicians to pay full British taxes
a fair chance – for every child
• Ensure children get the individual attention they need by cutting class sizes
• Made possible by investing £2.5 billion in schools targeted to help struggling pupils
• Give schools the freedom to make the right choices for their pupils
a fair future – creating jobs by making Britain greener
• Break up the banks and get them lending again to protect real businesses
• Honesty about the tough choices needed to cut the deficit
• Green growth and jobs that last by investing in infrastructure
a fair deal – by cleaning up politics
• Put trust back into politics by giving you the right to sack corrupt MPs
• Restore and protect hard-won British civil liberties with a Freedom Bill
All good stuff, with more to come tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s the first part of the manifesto in full:Liberal-Democrat-general-election-manifesto-2010-extract